Migrant workers offered recruitment into DKBA
Mon 27 Apr 2009, IMNA
Burmese migrant workers arriving at a DKBA border checkpoint in Myawaddy are being offered membership of the ethnic armed group if they are unable to pay the checkpoint fees.
The workers are returning to Burma following arrest and deportation by the Thai authorities and must pass DKBA checkpoint 999 to avoid arrest as illegal migrants at the official Burmese border post. According to a local businessman, the migrants must pay the DKBA 1200 Baht and those who are unable to pay are offered two choices: work for the group to earn the fee or be recruited as a soldier.
“Some of them get friendly with the DKBA soldiers while they’re working for them. They don’t want to return to Burma and they don’t want to work in Thailand either. Therefore, many of them join the DKBA,” said the businessman.
According to a member of the Karen Peace Front (KPF), the Thai authorities are sending between 50 and 150 Burmese migrant workers through Myawaddy every day. Many of them arrive at the DKBA checkpoint without the means to pay. Some can contact family or friends to assist but around 10% are unable to do so and are therefore candidates for recruitment.
One recent recruit said, “The DKBA did not force me to join their army. I couldn’t pay at the checkpoint so they gave me work to earn the money I owed them and said I could join them afterwards if I wanted to. They gave me a uniform without any questions. Right now many DKBA soldier have to go to the frontline so they’re recruiting new troops.”